Have you ever wondered what the “D” stands for in the famous term “D-Day”? Historically there is a lot of confusion about this. It was a term very commonly used in the military. Different opinions are that it stands for “decision”, “designated” and even “debarkation”. For me, it was clear in my mind. It meant “Delivery Day”.
For all the planned C-section and induction mamas, you have the slight benefit of being a little prepared. But ultimately you can never be fully prepared for what is about to come, especially if it’s your first time! A lot of things will come up that you weren’t expecting (no pun intended!), things might get chaotic and might go wrong-but it should never take away from this miraculous experience.
To bring some calm to the chaos- I’m listing a few things that might be helpful to know before going into labor. Although I’m no medical expert and every birthing experience is different, but I truly believe that these few things will make the whole roller coaster of a ride a little bit smoother.
1. Know your hospital and its policies.
Even though I skipped out on all the prenatal classes, I booked a tour of my hospital in my last trimester and it was honestly a great decision. Often the delivering hospitals offer these tours to expectant parents- and even if they don’t, you can request one. This will give you an idea of what to do and where to go if you go into labor. At this tour, don’t be embarrassed to be the annoying expectant parent asking a million questions. Some things that would be good to know are the visitor policies, number of people allowed in the delivery room, nursery security and policies, and pain management policies. You would be surprised to know how much these policies differ from one hospital to another. For example, I got to know that my hospital cannot refuse pain management (in this case, epidural) at any point even if the patient is only a centimeter dilated. Whereas other hospitals refuse epidural before the patient is 4 centimeters dilated or more. Things like these were definitely good to know on D-day! Therefore, before the tour make a list of questions and ask away!
“ Labor at home until Labor is well established. Walking around trying to encourage contractions in the cold, crowded hospital- while families waiting in the visiting room stared at me was probably the most awkward part of labor.” – Hira Khan, Author, Labor & Birth Doula.
2. Make a plan.
At one of my appointments my amazing gynecologist gave me some brilliant advice. She told me that in the days leading up to the D-day, every night before you go to sleep you should imagine three very different scenarios. The first scenario: an easy natural delivery, The second scenario: a tough delivery with the help of an epidural, and lastly the third scenario: an unplanned emergency C-section after hours of labor. After that, she told me to imagine how I would cope with these three very different scenarios. This not only helped me prepare but also helped me when the day came. I felt like I had a plan to deal with all these different scenarios. Also, it would be very helpful for you to plan things like who you would want in the delivery room with you and who you would want to inform when the little bundle of joy finally arrives. Give a list of numbers to your birth coaches i.e. the very amazing people by your side in the delivery room, and tell them to inform your close ones of the news. Small things like these will avoid confusion or at least limit it!
3. Decision-making with your partner before D-day.
Although it is one of the most beautiful days in your lives, you will be surprised to know that a lot of arguments and disagreements between partners happen before the baby even leaves the hospital. After labor and delivery, you and your partner will both be tired exhausted like never before. Everyone knows that this is a big moment for the mother but unfortunately the father with the bags under his eyes who hasn’t eaten, slept or showered in a long time gets neglected. Then there are all the decisions to make before you get to leave the hospital. When the baby comes, who cuts the umbilical cord; the doctor or the dad? Who fills out the paper work and what is the name that was decided for the baby? Do the parents want some alone time with the baby? These might seem like small things beforehand but make sure that you and your partner are both on the same page. This is a day to remember for both of you.
4. Epidural Guidelines.
I am pro epidural but truly believe that mamas who do it naturally are super heroes! I have come across so many women who say that they will make up their mind when the time comes. The most common regret I have heard of is the fact that they waited till the very end to take it and wish they had just taken it sooner. If you know you might be taking it, the sooner the better. Okay, so here’s the down low on epidural. It does not hurt. It’s the contractions that make staying very still to get the epidural that hurt and make the process difficult. If you are scared of needles like I am, do yourself a favor and do not look at the epidural AT ALL. It would be extremely helpful to have your birth coach distract you while the process is going on. Keep in mind that depending on your hospital it usually takes a while to bring in the anesthesiologist to prepare and administer the epidural.
5. It will hurt.
In the labor room my sister who was one of my birth coaches told me one thing that really stuck to me. She told me to keep my eyes on the prize. The baby is going to come one way or another and all I could do was breathe through the pain and stay strong. And boy was the prize worth it! Child birth is one of those things in life that is not meant to be easy but in the end it is completely worth it.
“Eat and stay well hydrated. Labor is intense work. By the time I had my baby, I was starving! I wish I had eaten some real hearty healthy food instead of a “light” meal.” – Hira Khan, Author, Labor & Birth Doula.
6. Nurses are your best friends
Although it is your gynecologist who delivers the baby, it is the nurses who are with you from the first step when you go into labor. Make sure you take the little time you have to get to know them. Communicate with them and let them know about yourself and your pain threshold. In a moment alone, maybe let them know a phrase you can say when you need privacy so that they can tell visitors to leave without you having to do so. Also, make sure to thank them with a token of appreciation later-they deserve it.
In the midst of pain and being uncomfortable, it will be really nice to have things around you that soothe and comfort you. Bring your own bedding from home if that helps. In my case, I brought my favorite comforter with me and my iPad to play Qur’anic verses that I had memorized. Whenever I would feel the pain I would listen to the words in those verses and concentrate on them. Even little things can help- the smell of your favorite soap, pictures on your phone, your body lotion, your favorite songs, all these things might seem small but at that time they can go a long way to make you feel better.
8. Pack Accordingly.
It is one of those occasions in life where it is definitely better to be over prepared than under prepared. Pack a small suitcase of things for yourself, your baby and the person staying with you. You don’t want people running back and forth to your house to get stuff. Also, make sure you have everything that you need for the baby when he or she comes. You will be surprised to know how many times I’ve seen baby girls going home in a baby boys clothes and vice versa. If you haven’t found out the gender, make sure you have one pink and one blue outfit in your hospital bag/suitcase. After all, the baby deserves a good going home outfit after all the hard work!
You might feel like you have completely recovered and that you can manage it all, but still get the help. Recent studies have shown that it takes a mother a whole year to completely recover after childbirth. Give yourself at least two weeks before you start cooking and cleaning! Ask your support system-I’m sure they will be delighted to come over and be on diaper duty. Okay, maybe not! but they can still take care of the meals and the house while you and your little one snuggle to nap. Do not over exert yourself; you will need all the energy to take care of your baby. After all, Happy mama = Happy baby.
10. It’s your Big Day.
This is probably one of the biggest days of your life. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Recently I saw a lot of people on social media criticizing this mom who was putting on make up in the delivery room before giving birth. I am not saying that you need to do your make up while giving birth but if it makes you feel like a human better afterwards then go ahead and do it. Eat well and stay hydrated. Listen to your body, it will ultimately guide you through it all.
Thank you to Hira Khan for her tips on going into Labor. Visit her website at http://www.birthkeeper.ca. I hope these tips help all the expecting mommies. Please comment below and leave your own tips that you found helpful on your D-day!
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